Creighton vs. Northern State Game Recap: Bluejays soar

Eric Francis

The Creighton Bluejays got their first - and last taste of exhibition play. As it would turn out, things went quite alright.

In front of the largest crowd ever for a Creighton men’s basketball exhibition game, the Bluejays won in decisive fashion. 16,299 Bluejays fans packed CenturyLink Center Omaha to watch Creighton defeat the Northern State Wolves 89-61. While the Wolves were able to hang with the Bluejays for much of the first half, Northern State was simply overmatched in the final frame.

Doug Leads The Pack

Preseason All-American Doug McDermott led the charge for Creighton with 26 points in the 24 minutes he accounted for Friday night. McDermott’s 26 points came from a very reasonable 53.8 percent from the field on 13 shots, and was 11-for-14 from the free throw line. He added four rebounds as well, all coming on the defensive side. Nights like this from McDermott should be a sign of things to come for the Ames native’s last hurrah. Elsewhere, the Jays were helped by the likes of Grant Gibbs. While he only scored five points, the senior guard from Marion, Iowa dished out five assists and made both of the shots he took on the floor.

Frontcourt Frenzy

Junior center Will Artino’s experience was expected to be the largest attributing factor to him earning the most playing time going into the season, with Zach Hanson breathing down his neck. Artino certainly helped his case against the Northern State frontcourt on Friday night. Artino was perfect from the field on three shots and shot 2-3 from the free throw line, for a total of eight points. Artino showed his prowess under the glass, corralling eight rebounds. Zach Hanson also added to the successes that the frontcourt had. Hanson scored five points (2-3 FG) and collected two rebounds.

In all, the Bluejays picked up 40 of their 89 points in the paint.

Bench Bonanza

Much of Creighton’s roster returned for the 2013-14 campaign, and as a result, depth is a strength going into the season. It showed against the Wolves, as the bench scored 49 points to Northern State’s 38. Senior forward Ethan Wragge and freshman forward Toby Hegner led the way with nine points each. The sharp-shooting Wragge shot 60 percent from beyond the arc on five attempts and Hegner was perfect from the field on four attempts. Freshman Isaiah Zierden wowed with eight points and, like Wragge, looked stellar from the perimeter. The guard, a native of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, made two of his three attempts from the three-point line in his 15 minutes of action.

Brooks Brightens Backcourt Concerns

If there was one weakness for the Creighton Bluejays on Friday evening it was the play of their backcourt. Austin Chatman and Jahenns Manigat combined for one point and four assists in their 36 combined minutes on the floor. Chatman’s lone point came at the free throw line and the two missed the combined three shots they took. The junior Chatman also added two turnovers and while he pulled down four rebounds, it is clear that the two starters did not have a good night.

On the other side of the coin, junior college transfer Devin Brooks flashed the potential he showed at Bluejay Madness last Friday night in the exhibition contest. Brooks, a native of Harlem, New York, scored six points on a perfect night of shooting (3-3 FG) and threw seven assists out to his teammates in 15 minutes of playing time. Brooks looked calm, cool, and collected in his first big-time college basketball game, even if it was just a taste of what’s to come.

Should the backcourt issues continue to plague the Bluejays, it could very well lead to more playing time for Brooks.

On deck for Creighton is the first game of the regular season. The Bluejays take on the Alcorn State Braves on Friday Nov. 8 at 7:00 p.m. CT in Omaha.

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